Death in Venice
"Death in Venice, " tells about a ruinous quest for love and beauty amid degenerating splendor. Gustav von Aschenbach, a successful but lonely author, travels to the Queen of the Adriatic in search of an elusive spiritual fulfillment that turns into his erotic doom. Spellbound by a beautiful Polish boy, he finds himself fettered to this hypnotic city of sun-drenched sensuality and eerie physical decay as it gradually succumbs to a secret epidemic. In his novella "Tonio Kroger, " Mann poetically traces a young writer's struggle between bourgeois strictures and artistic genius. Skillful dialogue and language reflect the title character's emotional conflicts, especially in his wistful visit to his home town and his sentimental journey to the Baltic. "Gladius Dei, " in contrast, is a sardonic depiction of a self-styled warrior of God, who battles against the sexual openness and profanity of Munich, the art center of northern Europe. In "The Blood of the Walsungs, " set in turn-of-the-century Berlin, a wealthy Jewish family, modeled after the family of Thomas Mann's wife, is excoriated in a Wagnerian evening that ends in self-loathing and self-loving incest.
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The most ham handed forshadowing I have ever seen. oohhh...creepy guy by a CEMETARY! ooooh...old man with make up trying to keep up with a crowd of youth! I wonder what's gonna happen! Hey maybe that epidemic going on is going to figure into the story some how? Ya think?
While we're on the subject of infectious diseases, let's consider the romanticism of it all. First of all, infectious disease are very romantic because it comes with struggle, decay, and inevitability. See? Pretty metaphorical, isn't it? The big three romatic ways to rot away are; 1)syphillus, 2)consumption, 3)cholera. In Death in Venice, Mann couldn't use syphillus because his love for his young boy is pure and a STD would overlay a pervie element to it, which we must understand is not the motive. Consumption is generally reserved for artist dying in garretts (classy word for attic) on the left bank. It has bucket loads of pathos and misunderstanding with it because of its lingering nature. That leave cholera. Ebola was unknown in Mann's time. Beside, bloody orifices? Can't do that.
Homeric schmomeric...give me a break...
Old guy gets some sort of middle age thing going and goes gay. Others have commented that this deeply shocking to modern readers. What? Modern readers could read about somebody becoming intimate with a waffle maker and would be good with it. My guess is that it was shocking at the time of publishing and was frankly a cheap stunt to sell some copies. Good for Tom, he had to make a living somehow. In the end his little gay adventure doesn't work out, and the object of his unrequited (but pure and deeply philosophical) love doesn't notice as he is...DEAD! DEAD! DEAD! Tragic...tragic...
Thank God he died. It was like watching's Peter Jackson's King Kong. Man, I wanted that monkey dead just so the movie would stop! Same thing here. Gay angsty writer dead? Check. Woohoo! This nightmare is nearly over!
For chissakes...for angstiness, most of you high school drama club types got nothing on this 50 year old loser. Let that be a lesson to you...nobody cares if you're dead. As a matter of fact, if it will make a bad movie stop, they want you dead! So there...that's your life lesson from this big pile-o-poo. It wasn't easy to pull out, but I think that's all there is.
Death in Venice is a true masterpiece of literary work, and Thomas Mann gives the read a mountain of over whelming symbols, that plays havoc with psychological profile of the central character.
Other editions - View all
Phallos: A Symbol and Its History in the Male World
Snippet view - 1972
Women and Sacrifice: Male Narcissism and the Psychology of Religion
Limited preview - 1992